2020 in review: Committees of AIDS United’s Public Policy Council

Community Mobilization Committee

In 2020, the bulk of the work done by the Community Mobilization Committee revolved around electoral organizing and candidate outreach. Over the course of the year, the committee helped secure a response to the AIDS United led presidential candidate HIV questionnaire from the Biden campaign and worked to organize a meeting with members of Biden’s campaign staff to share the needs and concerns of HIV service providers and the HIV community at large. We also worked with several PPC member organizations to help support get-out-the-vote campaigns and to educate voters on issues that impact people living with HIV in the 2020 election. Outside of the election, the Community Mobilization Committee worked to support grassroots mobilization to ensure that Ending the HIV Epidemic plans reflected the needs of the community and helped identify issues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic that needed urgent federal, state and local support.

Racial Justice Index Committee

In 2020, The Racial Justice Index Committee came into existence. This committee has been charged with creating an index to measure how organizations serving people living with and vulnerable to HIV could better embody racial justice values. This committee organized in September 2020, and then created the committee’s mission, vision and guiding principles. Additionally, the Racial Justice Index Committee began the road map toward creating the Racial Justice Index. The index is set to be piloted among members of the Public Policy Council in 2021 and then disseminated out to the wider HIV sector in 2022.

Molecular Surveillance Committee

In 2020, the Public Policy Council formally adopted another topic of central interest and made permanent the committee leading work on it: molecular HIV surveillance. As a matter of urgency for people living with HIV, the PPC committed to addressing molecular HIV surveillance within its standing work.

The widespread implementation of these technologies and a lack of community consultation about potential risks and costs prior to use of this strategy has fueled concern and a vigorous conversation among advocates about whether these new technologies offer benefits that are worth the potential incursions on patient privacy, the collateral legal consequences arising from HIV stigma and criminalization, and the investment of resources that might be used more efficiently to accomplish the same goals. Further, our members knew that there was no better gathering than the PPC to demonstrate one of the central issues in the discussion about molecular HIV surveillance: that there are so many different environments and practices for data-sharing across the United States.

Prevention Committee

Report forthcoming.

Access to Care Committee

During 2020, the Access to Care Committee became focused on changes to the 340B program being put forward by pharmaceutical companies that would negatively impact HIV care providers.

Pharmaceutical companies Sanofi, Eli Lilly, Merck and Novartis released a statement saying they will require 340B covered entities who use contract pharmacies to provide data to the manufacturer so they could identify and resolve duplicate rebates, drug discounts and ineligible discounts. AstraZeneca additionally informed 340B covered entities and its wholesale pharmacy contacts that it would only use a single contract pharmacy for processing 340B pricing for those covered entities that do not have their own on-site dispensing pharmacy.

The concern of our members was not only the added burden this reporting may cause, especially those with limited resources, but the threat of not receiving necessary medications if complete data are not received on time.

The Access to Care Committee immediately saw the need for strong advocacy to support maintenance and growth of the 340B Program.

Given the urgency of the issue, members of the committee urged AIDS United to submit a letter of concern to Laura Cheever, associate administrator of the HIV/AIDS Bureau, a division of Health Resources and Services Administration. Members of the committee also were encouraged to send letters to their state and local officials.

Cheever acknowledged the letter, and the actions members took integrated with other federal, state and local advocacy efforts, which has led to multiple court cases for stopping these actions the pharmaceuticals have put forward.